GOP's Hatch says he will retire from US Senate after 40 years

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan R-Wis. left accompanied by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch R-Utah signs the final version of the GOP tax bill during an enrollment ceremony at the

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to retire; Romney could run

I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington. "But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves, and for me, that time is soon approaching".

Romney, the former MA governor who now lives in Utah, has been eyeing a Senate run, but Trump had encouraged Hatch to seek re-election.

Romney maintains residence in Utah and was the president and CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee before going on to serve as governor of MA and challenge Barack Obama as the Republican nominee in the 2012 presidential election.

That is in part because Hatch had privately told Romney he was not sure he was ready to leave a seat he has held since 1977 and White House officials did all they could to nudge him into another campaign. Republicans on that committee led the Senate effort to overhaul the tax system which passed last month, the only major legislative accomplishment of the GOP Congress. "He has been a tremendous supporter, and I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President", Trump tweeted Tuesday.

Just imagine what Bannon might say if Romney actually becomes a candidate for office.

Amid earlier speculation about Hatch's plans, the Utah senator stepped up to defend Romney, a fellow Mormon.

His terms ends about a year from now.

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The senator returned the favor at the White House when Trump signed the tax measure, calling him "one heck of a leader".

"Congratulations to Senator Orrin Hatch on an absolutely incredible career", Trump tweeted Tuesday evening.

Other conservatives in the state have been trying to recruit another conservative challenger to contest Romney from the right, but no candidates have yet come forward.

Romney released a statement on Facebook after Hatch's announcement. As the two senators talked over each other, Hatch said he was exhausted of Democrats' "bull crap".

If Hatch had opted to stay in the Senate, he could have faced a formidable challenge from a crop of ambitious Utah Republicans. Should they decide to run, their presence might be a welcome bit of nostalgia to GOP voters worn out by Trump's presidency; but they could also provide an unwelcome flashback.

Hatch frequently wrote religious songs and recorded music in his spare time as a way to relax from the stresses of life in Washington.

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